Messaging 101

We Are the Messengers

      • Your democracy needs you. The MAGA Republicans have a right wing media empire funded by their billionaires. Democrats do not. They have us. We are the messengers, and that is our greatest strength. 
      • We have to bridge the information gap. Most of us scroll through front page news, often just reading headlines to get a sense of things. Unfortunately, what drives clicks and revenue for media companies is outrage (they made a lot of money when Trump was in office) so the top headlines tend to be negative and at times, repeat GOP talking points. So many people have a distorted picture. For example:
          • A majority of Americans believed that the US economy LOST jobs in 2021 when we had a record job recovery.
          • A majority of Americans believe that Republicans are better for the economy when, in fact, 9 of the last 10 recessions occurred under a GOP president and the stock market has always done better under Dems than Rs.
          • A majority of Americans believed that the recent and massive infrastructure bill did not pass when in fact it did.
          • Until recently, the media’s coverage of Biden has been very negative despite delivering so many wins and as a result, the public’s approval of Biden’s has been shockingly low. A number of journalists have even called out the media on their bias and a recent study found that the coverage of Biden was more negative than Trump. (See also articles from Perry Bacon Jr., Dana Milbank, Jennifer Rubin and Kirsten Powers.)
      • We voters must amplify Dem messaging. It is on all of us to use our social media and voices to make sure voters understand what’s at stake and what the Biden-Harris Administration and Democrats have already accomplished. (Here’s a link to our favorite sources for facts and messaging.)
      • Dems suck at messaging. Let’s put to rest the cliche that Dems are bad at messaging once and for all. They are not.  We have a big tent – AOC to Manchin – so there is no one-size-fits-all messaging for the most part. And the mainstream media does not work for Democrats so if that’s where you look for “Dem messaging,” you will not find it. (See Dan Pfeiffer’s article for more.)
      • Upshot: It is time to speak up even if it means we have to be uncomfortable because if we don’t and we lose in November, it’s going to make the Trump years look like a cakewalk.

Messaging Starter Pack

 

      • Friends and Family Plan 2022. Research shows that people are much more persuaded by friends and family than they are politicians. Plus, there’s way more of us than Dem politicians so whether it’s on social media, at the dinner table or a BBQ – when you share what you value – you can make a difference. And, since most people do not follow politics closely and can be easily swayed by disingenuous, clickbait headlines, it is critical to counter the narrative when it comes up in conversation because nothing spreads faster than negativity and apathy, and apathy is the way the MAGA GOP wins.
      • Uplift Democrats’ accomplishments. The MAGA GOP does not have to pass even one voter suppression bill if they can convince voters that nothing ever changes. Apathy is how fascism wins. So, when you talk to friends and family, or when posting on social media, focus on what we have accomplished and what we can do. Even more importantly, why it matters to you. Skip the doom-and-gloom. It only helps the GOP.
      • Adapt to your audience. There is no one-size fits all approach to messaging. Your friends may prioritize reproductive rights; your relatives may care more about inflation. Seniors are focused on Social Security and healthcare; young people on climate change, mental health and mass shootings. Figure out what’s important to your friends and family and tailor it to them.
      • Start with shared values. A lot of times messaging leads with a problem, moves to a solution, and ends with a call to action. This works for some of us, but many Americans are tired of hearing about problems. Instead start with shared values which has proven to be much more effective at shifting opinions. Ex: No matter our color, background, or party, most of us value our freedom.
      • Identify the villains. It is important to be specific and not make general statements like “Roe was overturned” or people “will lose Medicare coverage.”  Someone made policy decisions that led to Roe being overturned and people losing Medicare. Ex: MAGA Republicans have pledged to cut Social Security and Medicare if they win in November. The GOP Supreme Court Justices have taken away women’s right to abortion.
      • Go to the source. You don’t need to be original. There are elected Dems, Dem allies and Dem orgs doing the research and finding the right words. Share their work, amplify their voices and contribute your own perspective on why this matters. (See our list of favorite sources here)
          • Twitter – hear us out: Twitter is one of the best places to find sharp and concise messaging points. Elected Dems, grassroots organizers, GOTV orgs – they know how to message. Our suggestion is to set up an account if you don’t have one for just the next two months.
      • Use your social media platforms – especially Facebook!
          • If you have Facebook, time to use it. Facebook is the MOST popular social media platform used by registered voters. There are 3x as many voters on Facebook than on Twitter and Instagram – Trump’s 2016 campaign said he would not have won without Facebook and their algorithms.
          • Don’t let disinformation win. Right-wing disinformation campaigns are very effective on Facebook because Republican voters like, comment, and repost. The FB algorithms reward repetition, and it is how disinformation catches like wildfire (see why Nazis propaganda was so effective).
          • The assignment. Many pro-democracy voters only use Facebook for birthday wishes, vacation photos, and celebrating kids’ accomplishments. We get it. Posting about politics can be uncomfortable. But you know what is more uncomfortable? Republicans forcing children who have been raped to give birth. Or having 65M senior Americans lose Social Security and Medicare. Or having all federal legislation “sunset” after 5 years – which means saying goodbye to the Affordable Care Act, climate change legislation and so much more if the MAGA GOP has its way.
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LAST UPDATED ON SEPTEMBER 20TH, 2022